I recently listened in on a panel discussion at a PRSA Tech Talk event with New York Times staffers. Tech editor Damon Darlin, Internet reporter Brad Stone and venture capital reporter Claire Cain Miller sat on the panel and discussed their take on the Times’ tech coverage.
Tech coverage at the New York Times has evolved in the last few years, according to Damon. First, there’s no such thing as a 6 p.m. deadline anymore. When a story is edited, it’s ready to be posted. Thus as digital media evolves – getting faster and more crowded – so do journalists’ approach to story gathering. Secondly, readers have come to expect fresh content that still has some depth. If they don’t find it on their favorite news site, you better be sure they’ll go someplace else.
Still, the Times isn’t entirely focused on being the first to publish; albeit reporters will absolutely consider exclusives provided that they’re genuinely exclusives. Brad Stone had an interesting perspective on the paper’s changing role: People are probably going to get their breaking news about a new iPhone app from someplace other than the New York Times, maybe even a wire service or Gizmodo. The Times may use the news as a peg, but only for setting the context for a larger, in-depth story. “Even though The New York Times covers breaking news, we’re becoming more like a magazine in our story-telling style,” Brad said. This is a good thing for us PR folks as we’re looking to secure seminal-type stories for our tech clients.
Funny enough, even these seasoned “techsters” said they have a hard time maintaining the rate of digital consumption that is demanded of them – which makes me feel almost entirely less guilty! Keeping up with Twitter, Techmeme, Facebook, MySpace, RSS feeds, MyYahoo! and so on comes with a heavy time burden. As a result, these reporters say they’re staying in the office more and more, and forgoing out-of-the-office briefings. The opportunity for PR pros is simple: if they won’t come to you, bring a high-level exec to them! According to Damon, they love when a CEO comes to the office to talk about industry trends, and not just their most recent product release.
By the numbers
What? New reporters to pitch?
The New York Times has added four new writers to their technology section over the past year demonstrating its resilience to a shrinking media landscape. Examples include Ashlee Vance’s joining the publication from The Register giving the Times someone who has an aptitude for, and will write about, B2B / enterprise hardware and software stories. Claire Cain Miller’s joining the NY Times last summer from Forbes now gives the publication someone who is dedicated to the venture capital beat, which they’ve not had previously. Jenna Wortham, the most recent addition to the tech team, came from Wired’s Underwire and covers Internet business and lifestyle – namely how people are using the Internet to change the way we live.
Does anyone have experience with these or other New York Times tech reporters that they’d like to share?